HIE Saves Memphis Hospitals $2M

Posted on November 21, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

I’ve always predicted that smaller HIEs would be the first to show big savings.  After all, it’s easier to coordinate a big project when you have the option of a quick face-to-face meeting, and what’s more, people are more likely to have personal relationships that help tie the network together in real life. So I’m not surprised to read that it’s a metro-area HIE which has just reported saving millions in a single year.

Last week, researchers reported that twelve hospitals in the Memphis area saved $2 million last year and had fewer hospital admissions by sharing EMR data. What makes this particularly interesting is that the hospitals shared data only among their emergency departments, rather than going for a facility-wide play.

In the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Vanderbilt University researchers looked at every time in which HIE data was accessed over a period of 13 months. They then compared those records with those ED transactions in which HIE data wasn’t accessed.

The clinical flowed throw the MidSouth eHealth Alliance, which was formed through grants from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the state of Tennessee.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that the hospitals saved $1.95 million, 97 percent of which was due to lower admissions or  $1.1 million in net savings after subtracting the HIE’s operating costs.  (For more detailed study data, visit this study write up by the Advisory Board’s The Daily Briefing or this one on NHINwatch.com.)

Those are pretty nice numbers to begin with. They’re even more encouraging given that the HIE might generate even better savings if other departments got into the act.  Let’s hope other HIEs begin to see results like these.